Sean Lee says he's staying with Cowboys to 'chase after a championship'

Sean Lee will look to play strongside linebacker in the Dallas Cowboys' base defense while spelling Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch in the nickel defense at times in 2019. Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

FRISCO, Texas -- In the end, Sean Lee wants to squeeze out as much as he can from playing for the Dallas Cowboys.

On Monday, the veteran linebacker signed his reworked contract that will save the Cowboys around $4 million in salary-cap space but gives him a chance to make up to $7 million based on play-time incentives.

"I love the organization," Lee told ESPN. "I love being part of this team. I love my teammates. I've been blessed since Day 1 to play for the Cowboys. It's been a dream come true, and I wanted to continue to be with this group and chase after a championship."

Another number mattered to Lee: Ten years as a Cowboy.

"By no means am I saying this is my last year, but a decade with this organization with the support from the Jones' family, my coaches, teammates and people throughout the city that they've shown me during the tough times, it means a lot to me," said Lee, a second-round pick in 2010. "And it continues to motivate me to help us win a championship."

Lee, who will turn 33 in July, has missed 14 games with hamstring injuries over the past two seasons, including nine in 2018. After the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, he contemplated retirement or potentially playing elsewhere, knowing the Cowboys would be unlikely to pay him his $7 million base salary without any adjustments to the deal.

"The frustration from the injuries led me to just consider where I was at in my career," Lee said. "I think once you get past that and realize what type of team we have and how much fun it is to play with this group, I still have the passion to go out and play. That took over."

A full-time player since his second season, Lee will have to adjust to a new role and position with Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch starring in 2018 and finishing as the Cowboys' top two tacklers. Lee will move over to strongside linebacker, while looking to spell Smith and Vander Esch at times in sub packages.

"I'm here to be a guy who makes plays on the field," Lee said, "I'm a player that wants to play and still feel like I can help us win games. Obviously, I have to do a better job staying on the field on a consistent basis, and I've not been close to doing that the last two years. But there's no question I want to establish a role and get on the field and make plays."

Lee has been working out at The Star for a good chunk of the offseason so far, with the official offseason program not starting until next month.

"We have a game plan and we'll continue to adjust it when we need," Lee said. "When we've been able to practice and play and sustain things, it's been great. Personally, I have to find a way to stay on the field better. I have complete faith in what we're doing."